04 Januari 2012

A-Ma Temple – A prominent religious site

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The A-Ma Temple is amongst the three well known Buddha halls of the country. It is located in the south-eastern sector of Macau Peninsula and is the oldest Buddhist place of worship in the region. Believed to have been built in 1488 during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) it commemorated Mazu – the sacred sea goddess of the area who is supposed to bless the fishermen. Legend has it that this goddess was born under the name Lin Mo in Putian City in the Fujian Province and being blessed with extraordinary abilities she was able to predict good and ill fate. Upon her death fisher-folk and merchants often prayed for her to show them guidance especially during unpredictable sea conditions.

The A-Ma Temple boasts traditional Chinese architectural style and its setting upon the mountain provides a spectacular sight. The complex itself is vast and houses six sections of several halls each depicting classical designs. The impressive gateway welcomes visitors and just as one crosses the courtyard beyond the gate the Hongren Hall, the oldest in the complex, can be reached via a short winding pathway. This Hall houses the statue of Mazu and is the most visited section of the Temple. Further on one will come across the simply styled hall of Avalokitesvara which has less glam than the others. The most striking section is the Buddhist hall of Zhengjiao Chanlin which is adorned by various ornate styles of the period.

Today the A-Ma Temple is not only a place of worship but also a place to observe the culture, history and architectural styles of the Chinese as well the Island of Macau. And if one were to proceed further up the mountain the striking statue of Mazu stands proudly showing the way to the sailors and fishermen. The area is a popular attraction amongst the locals as well as the visitors to these Islands.

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